Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom

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North American box art.

Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom is a fantasy/sci-fi role-playing video game developed and published by Sega for the Genesis on 1990-04-21. The game is set in a fantasy world where two legendary foes, Orakio and Laya, fought against each other 1,000 years ago in a war that devastated the world. Remnants of the world indicate it had the technology of machines that could fly. You play Rhys, a descendant of Orakio, whose marriage is interrupted by a dragon kidnapping his bride who, it turns out, doesn't know she's actually a descendant of Laya! As Rhys explores the world, he discovers that his ancestors didn't just have flying machines, they had massive technology like lasers, space travel, and cybernetics. The game also features a very interesting mechanic where you play the game across multiple generations of heroes. You choose which characters you want to marry, and then continue the game controlling their children.

Personal

A friend of mine in middle school had this game. I saw him playing it fairly early on (after getting Wren in Aridia). I remember being really impressed by the game's graphics and music, and very surprised to see robots and cyborgs in a fantasy-themed RPG, but I really enjoyed it. I almost never played the game, and was content watching my friend play, but we mostly just did combat grinding because he was way under-leveled. I watched him get Lyle and make it to the town of Shusoran, but he stopped playing it after that (no doubt replaced by a better game). Years later, I found a collection of Genesis VGM files and listened to the music again which made me nostalgic for the game, but I was bored with old-style RPGs, so I didn't try playing it. Then, many years later still, I decided to play the game through on an emulator (where I can increase the speed to breeze through grinding) just to see if I had missed out on a great game. I beat it on 2020-04-11 using the Ayn to Sean route. My overall opinion is that it has the multimedia capabilities of a 16-bit RPG, but retains the sensibilities of an 8-bit RPG.

Status

I don't own the game, but I have beaten it.

Review

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5 4 7 7 6

Best Version: Genesis

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The graphics, especially those in the cut-scenes, portraits, and enemies, are great. The enemy animations look a little silly, but they're charming, and the game makes good use of parallax scrolling and palette cycling.
  • The game has fantastic music. A lot of the themes are memorable because of their great melodies. It also makes good use of dynamic music which changes depending on how well you're doing in combat and how many people are in your party.
  • The idea of playing several generations of characters was a very clever idea. I love how characters you once played are seen as elderly kings and queens as you adventure with their offspring. And allowing the player to choose who they will marry in each section adds additional replay value by letting you choose different spouses for each play-through showing new cut-scenes and different parts of the story.
  • NPC conversations, though dull, are updated as you progress through the game, which is a nice addition.
  • I like the animated icons in the combat interface.

Bad

  • Combat is too cumbersome. The auto-attack feature is nice, because, most of the time it will do, but when you want to do strategic combat with techniques or items, it requires a bunch of cumbersome menus and clicking about. The other menus are pretty bad as well. Selling and equipping equipment requires a bunch of next page clicks, etc.
  • Having your party replaced multiple times throughout the game is painful. All the work you did grinding them up to a powerful level is for naught once they retire. At least the cyborgs maintain their strength.
  • The map design leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the dungeons are just boring mazes, the towns all look the same, and the dome maps aren't much better. Several castles, even those without enemies, have long winding paths that lead nowhere.
  • Even with the manual at hand, it's hard to tell which weapons and armor can be used by which characters and which are superior. Also, the rather randomly named techniques require memorization.
  • The chests in dungeons are frequently not worth getting. Even late in the game you are rewarded for going well out of your way with an item which you could buy for 10-20 meseta? That doesn't impress. And when you get equipment, several times you'll already have something superior. In the Dahlia Dungeon there are four helmet upgrades, but they only help two characters. So you get to use the helmet for like five minutes before it's replaced.
  • The game has several modes of travel that you gain with the ship, submarine, jet, and temples, but you don't get any of them until the final portions of the game, which is a pain. It would have been better if each new generation unlocked a new mode of travel to speed along progress.
  • You would think, with three generations and five main characters, at least one of them would be a woman? But no, woman are always side-characters.
  • The expected progression of equipment isn't always followed. There are a couple times where towns, often right next door to each other, sell superior equipment to the other, or a town sells something that you can't possibly afford.
  • Although the marriages allow for new story arcs, the game is so boring with all the grinding, I have no desire to try the other possible characters.
  • I hate it when new characters are brought in as level 1 with starting equipment when the rest of your party is powerful. They just keep dying from a single attack until you grind for awhile to get them decently powerful. They should start with a level and equipment relative to the party's.
  • I hate that the technique Anti (cure poison) often fails. I know an antidote only costs 10 meseta, but it's annoying to deal with the menus to buy and use it.
  • The button setup is a bit odd. Using the same button that opens the status menu to fight in combat is strange.
  • Hazatak is supposed to be a town of cyborgs, but all of the shopkeepers are humans.
  • There is a continuity error where a character gives a wedding blessing even after they're dead.

Ugly

  • The game is very slowly paced. Characters walk too slow, the menu system is overly complicated, and, in order to be strong enough to fight enemies as you progress (as well as afford new equipment), you have to spend a lot of your time grinding.
  • As with most early video game RPGs, the bulk of the game is completing fetch quests to unlock a new part of the map which reveals another fetch quest. There aren't even any side-quests so it's pretty boring, and it doesn't feel very heroic.
  • Aspects of the story are good, I like the idea of people not knowing they're living on a spaceship because of an ancient war that destroyed their history, but all the minutia in the story is executed terribly. Rhys meets a random woman who washed up on the shore and wants to marry her, then she's kidnapped by a dragon, then Rhys swears to get her back even if it means killing Layans, which nobody has seen in 1,000 years, so the king puts him in the dungeon which is filled with money and equipment, and a strange woman helps him escape. So he goes to find a cyborg who has been waiting for him for a 1,000 years... it remains this ridiculous throughout the entire game.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Maps

Graphics

Videos

Commercial - Japan.
Longplay.

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Japanese ファンタシースターⅢ 時の継承者 FantashI Suta III - Ji no Keishosha The Successor of Time

Links

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